Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is a native British tree that, if clipped regularly, makes a very nice hedge with all the features of Beech, such as an abundance of glossy green leaves in summer and retention of brown leaves over the winter.
Although the similarities between Beech and Hornbeam are striking, there are a number of differences. Perhaps the most useful, when considering suitability as a hedge, is the different sites and soils favoured by Hornbeam.
Site and Soil
Hornbeam prefers wet, heavy / clay soils and tolerates shade. In these situations, it is an ideal alternative to Beech, which would not do at all well.
It is preferable to trim a Hornbeam hedge in late summer to ensure the maximum amount of leaves are retained over the winter period.
Apart from this regular trimming, Hornbeam requires very little in the way of care, looking after itself quite well.